City Catholic schools launch new headteachers recruitment drive

Cardinal Keith O'Brien. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Cardinal Keith O'Brien. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A NEW drive has been launched to recruit teachers to senior roles in Roman Catholic schools in the Capital because of a severe lack of candidates.

The Scottish Catholic Church and the city council are working together on the new recruitment initiative, after figures showed that there were significantly fewer applications for senior posts in Catholic schools than the city average. One city school, St David’s RC Primary in Pilton, is only managed by an acting headteacher because nobody applied for the job when it was advertised.

Only four people applied for the headteacher role at St Francis RC Primary, well below the average number of applicants for a headteacher role. Of these applicants, only two were judged to be suitable for a “long list” of potential candidates.

Now Cardinal Keith O’Brien has set up an “archdiocesan recruitment strategy team”.

The group has drawn up an action plan to “identify, support, develop and ultimately produce the Roman Catholic school leaders of the future”.

Initiatives aim to encourage pupils to consider teaching as a career, while others focus on preparing existing teachers for promoted positions. Ted Brack, who chairs the recruitment strategy team and is also the Catholic church’s representative on the city’s education committee, said: “Although the quality of candidates applying for senior promoted posts had been of a very high standard, the number of applicants for individual posts had varied.

“The archdiocese wished to be proactive and to work in partnership with local authorities to ensure both quantity and quality of applicants in future.”

The new recruitment strategy has featured a series of events, including coaching and mentoring of potential future candidates for headteacher roles.

It has also looked to encourage school pupils to consider a career in teaching. There are also opportunities for teachers to “shadow” senior colleagues.

Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, the city’s education leader, said: “Both the council and archdiocese are keen to improve the numbers of candidates for promoted posts.

“The action plan that has been drawn up has led to several events taking place to improve interest.”

Unlike classroom teachers, headteachers within Catholic schools have to follow the faith themselves, which means that recruitment comes from a smaller pool of candidates.

The Scottish Borders Council yesterday launched a review into Catholic education amid problems with recruitment of headteachers and concerns about inspection performances.

Cllr Paul Godzik, education spokesman for the Labour group, said: “It is clearly an issue that needs attention. Nobody wants to see schools without a permanent head for more than a short time.”